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Association of California School Administrators
Association of California School Administrators
Screenshot of Aspiring Admininistrators Zoom meeting with 25 attendees.
Aspiring Administrators includes new, aspiring and associate ACSA members in Regions 15, 16 and 12.
Group supports student members in their leadership journey
March 29, 2021
Four years ago, Region 16 was struggling with an ACSA student charter that had been inactive for three years despite everyone’s best efforts. While the group was brainstorming how to build engagement and membership, several questions were raised, such as “Why should student and associate members join? How can we engage them?” The group agreed that, in addition to state ACSA benefits, they needed to reach out and find a way to support coordinators, teachers and others who are exploring pathways into school leadership and administration.
Former ACSA Board of Directors member and current Los Angeles Unified School District site principal Angel Barrett then agreed to take on the project and made a quick call to current Region 15 Board of Directors member and Charter Oak USD Director of Student Services Maria Thompson. She immediately agreed to help.
“If we want them to add one more thing to their plate, it has to be worth it,” Barrett said.
Aspiring Administrators is the brainchild of their collaboration. Three years later, Aspiring Administrators has become an integrated part of Region 15 and Region 16 outreach and support for educators looking to take the next step into administration. Eight times a year, the group of new, aspiring and associate members meets online. This meeting allows the group to welcome members from within the 732 square miles of the Los Angeles Unified School District and the 1,980 square miles of Region 15.
Region 15 is the largest region in the state with 1,576 members. Region 16 is not far behind at approximately 1,000 members. Eliminating travel also honors the time of members who are often balancing work, family and school. Last year, Barrett and Thompson helped ACSA President Ron Williams revive the Co-Administrators Academy for Region 12. They also opened the Aspiring Administrators meetings to Region 12 members.
“The format of Aspiring Administrators has also served Region 16 well,” Barrett said. “When the pandemic hit, we already had an online format that was easy to use and systems in place. Last May we began offering online brown bag lunches for all ACSA members on Thursdays at noon. We also have continued to offer socials and our annual holiday party online. Some of our events have exceeded 300 participants.”
Content for Aspiring Administrators is based on networking with current administrators, the California CAPES and CAPSELS and current events. This year’s presenters included Wes Smith (Vision), Christy Jones, Health and Mindfulness Coach (Social-Emotional), and Derrick Chau (Family and Community Engagement, State Attendance Plan). In December, the group joined all of Region 16 for the Winter Holiday Party with Joelle Hood from Thriving YOUniversity.
This semester, Aspiring Administrators is celebrating its third anniversary with a series entitled, “Your Future is Now!” The January meeting featured five current or former human resource officers: Marco Nava (LAUSD), Margaret Abrahamson (Charter Oak USD), Dominic DiGrazia (Glendora USD and former Region 15 President), Timothy Barker (Palmdale SD and former Region 15 President) and Gabe Soumakian (retired Oxnard High School District superintendent).
The presenters shared with the 51 participants advice on how to stand out as a candidate and best practices for applications, resume preparation and reference letters. The presenters also spoke about what their districts look for in an administrator and the importance of candidates finding a district that is a good fit.
The February meeting featured Rich Thome from Leadership Associates. Thome has conducted over 107 executive searches and 175 board workshops since 2003. Leadership Associates is one of California’s premier executive search and leadership development firms. It was founded in 1996 to support school boards and other educational organizations in their selection of superintendents and executive leaders.
“Not everyone realizes the purpose of educational search firms and how search firms can be partners for those seeking executive-level administrative positions. And, even if they do, rarely do they have an opportunity to meet someone like Rich in this informal format,” Thompson said. “It would have been a great learning opportunity when I was entering the administration field.”
Anyone is welcome to attend the meetings, which are just one way that Regions 16 and 15 have continued to build membership despite the pandemic. However, only ACSA members will be able to take advantage of the resume review and mock interviews.
Aspiring Administrators is the cornerstone but not the only support for the group. Three members presented at the Leadership Summit, and Cynthia Castrellon, Intervention Coordinator, co-wrote an article for the January/February 2021 Leadership magazine. Laura Gutierrez is facilitator of the Equity and Access for English Learners Academy, and another member took advantage of Region 16’s peer scholarship program to attend the academy. Members have also volunteered for the Women’s Leadership Summit and Region 16’s new communication team.
“Even before the pandemic, we had to recognize that many in this demographic are not natural joiners and prefer to receive information and attend professional development online,” Barrett and Thompson said. “Add to that the complexities of Region 16, and the size of Region 15, we had to design another way to reach them. We have steadily built the program and we have learned a lot on this journey, but we keep growing and only getting better.”
For more information or to request access for your region’s aspiring administrators, contact Angel Barrett at or Maria Thompson at
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